By Robert Kimmel
Access to testing for the coronavirus (COVID-19) in New York State is getting a boost from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a leading biotechnology company headquartered in Tarrytown. The company has begun donating a critical component to be used in 500,000 test kits provided to the State, as recently announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The shortage of the kits has been slowing testing nationwide, while coronavirus cases increase at alarming rates.
The kits using the Regeneron originated element are arriving at a rate of 25,000 a day. Volunteering long hours of work, local employees assisted in creating a liquid, viral transport media (VTM) unit. The liquid preserves swab samples used in testing for COVID-19. A company spokesperson said many employees who had been working from home, returned to its laboratory to help in the project.
“Regeneron worked to obtain the necessary components, determined formulas to meet the New York State-specifications, and leveraged the specialized skill set of our employees to make sterile VTM and place it into test tubes,” the Regeneron spokesman stated. “Regeneron is donating 100 percent of our supplies and labor for this effort – an approximately $1 million in-kind donation,” he added.
To date, more than 391,541 people have been tested in New York, with Governor Cuomo describing the State as being “very aggressive on testing from day one.” Some 25,000 persons are being tested daily in New York. He credited the rate of testing in the state as having, “helped us slow the spread of this virus.”
As of April 9, there were more than 159,937 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York State. There have been 7,067 deaths in New York as a result of the virus. 13,000 patients have recovered.
There have been more than 17,004 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Westchester County and 359 deaths in Westchester resulting from the virus.
The total number of deaths in the United States is at least 16,679, and 25,900 have recovered. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the United States has more than 468,703 confirmed cases, the highest number in the world. Global cases have exceeded 1.5 million.
Regeneron has also been active in other efforts to contain or treat the virus. In an effort to develop an “antibody-cocktail,” Regeneron also has been advancing a program identifying “hundreds of virus-neutralizing antibodies” leading to a possible therapy for the disease. It states that the work is potentially going to be ready for human clinical studies by early summer to determine its effectiveness.
Regeneron also aims to have hundreds of thousands of doses produced monthly by summer’s end. As previously reported, Regeneron is also collaborating with Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company, to develop a treatment for patients hospitalized with severe cases of the disease. Trials are underway with Kevzara, a monoclonal antibody in humans which impedes a protein thought to cause inflammation in the lungs when they are damaged by the COVID-19 virus. Regeneron is leading the trials in the United States. Kevzara was developed jointly by Regeneron and Sanofi and is used to treat adults with troublesome cases of arthritis.